Elephant Island

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Elephant Island
Elephant Island satellite image
Elephant Island satellite image
Waters Southern ocean
Archipelago South Shetland Islands
Geographical location 61 ° 7 ′  S , 55 ° 11 ′  W Coordinates: 61 ° 7 ′  S , 55 ° 11 ′  W
Elephant Island (South Shetland Islands)
Elephant Island
length 47 km
width 27 km
surface 558 km²
Highest elevation Mount Pendragon
973  m
Residents uninhabited
main place Point Wild
Map of Elephant Island
Map of Elephant Island
Mapa bases antarticas brasil.png
Elephant Island with Iceberg.jpg

Elephant Island ( English for " Elephant Island ") in the eastern part of the South Shetland Islands . The rocky, uninhabited island is 245 km northeast of the tip of the Antarctic Peninsula in the Southern Ocean . It is 1300 km southwest of South Georgia and is 935 km south of the Falkland Islands and 885 km southeast of Cape Horn . The island is within the Antarctic territorial claims of Argentina, Great Britain and Chile. In 1988, Brazil set up two locations on the island's northwest coast, which enabled up to six researchers to work in the summer. Refúgio Emílio Goeldi still exists , while the Refúgio Engenheiro Wiltgen station to the north was abandoned and dismantled in 1997/98.


The island got its name because of its wealth of elephant seals when the British seal hunter George Powell (1794-1824) discovered it in 1821 and took possession of it for the British Crown.


The island is about 47 km long, 27 km wide and has an area of ​​558 km². With Mount Pendragon, it reaches a height of 973 meters above sea level. The island is almost completely glaciated . Well-known points are the northeast and southern tip, called Cape Valentine and Cape Lookout , as well as Point Wild , a striking formation on the north coast. In front of the island in the south is the small Rowett Island .

Flora and fauna

The flora of Elephant Islands remains very sparse due to the adverse climate . Only a few unglaciated coastal regions offer adequate living conditions at all. The plant communities in these areas consist mainly of mosses , of which 22 species have been identified, as well as algae and lichens . A total of over 80 land plants were detected on Elephant Island and its neighboring islands.

There are numerous breeding colonies of chinstrap penguins on Elephant Island . BirdLife International designates five of these areas as Important Bird Area : Saddleback Point (AQ029) on the north coast, a headland west of Walker Point (AQ030), Mount Elder (AQ031) and a headland west of Cape Lookout (AQ032) on the southeast coast as well Stinker Point (AQ033) on the west coast. Others occurring on Elephant Iceland seabirds are the Eselspinguin , the Macaroni Penguin , the Imperial Shag , the Giant Petrel , Antarktiksturmvogel , Cape Petrel , the Kerguelen Petrel , the blue petrel , the snow petrel , the Brown Skua , the Wilson's Storm Petrel , the black-bellied storm petrel , the Black- who Gray-headed albatross , the black albatross , the Dominican gull , and the white-faced sheathbill . Two breeding pairs of the King Penguin were spotted at Stinker Point in the summer of 2009/10 . At mammals the are Antarctic fur seal and the southern elephant present.


In the absence of safe landing sites and because of its adverse climate, the island was never inhabited by people, although it could have served as a very good location for supplying the Antarctic research stations around the Weddell Sea and whaling stations . Today it is occasionally visited by tourist ships, although landing in rubber dinghies is extremely rare due to the adverse wind conditions. An operator of adventure travel in this region reported that out of 50 attempts, only two landings were successful.


Famous was the island when they the team Ernest Shackleton served from April to August 1916 as a refuge after their ship HMS Endurance of pack ice had been trapped and destroyed. Most of the group stayed on the island while Shackleton and five companions set off for South Georgia in the James Caird lifeboat, which was recovered from the Endurance . After Shackleton had reached South Georgia, those who remained on the island were rescued on August 30, 1916 by the Chilean steamship Yelcho . At Point Wild a bust was erected as a memorial to the captain of the Yelcho , which is under the protection of the Antarctic Treaty as Historic Site or Monument No. 53 . The inscription reads:

Here on August 30, 1916, the Chilean naval ship 'Yelcho', commanded by Luis Pardo Villalon, saved the 22 men of the Shackleton expedition who had survived the destruction of the 'Endurance' and lived on this island for four and a half months. "

The forward stem of the Yelcho can still be seen today as a memorial in Puerto Williams on the Chilean island of Navarino .

Web links

Commons : Elephant Island  - Collection of pictures, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. ^ John Stewart: Antarctica - An Encyclopedia . Vol. 2, McFarland & Co., Jefferson and London 2011, ISBN 978-0-7864-3590-6 , p. 1244
  2. Mount Pendragon on Peakbagger.com (English)
  3. Antonio Batista Pereira, Jair Putzke, Filipe de Carvalho Victoria, Clarissa Kappel Pereira, Cristiane Barbosa D'Oliveira, Adriano Luis Shünemann: Plant communities from Stinker Point, Elephant Island, Antarctica (PDF; 13.8 MB). In: Annual Activity Report of the National Institute of Science and Technology Antarctic Environmental Research 2012 , Volume 1, pp. 54–57 (English)
  4. ^ JS Allison, RIL Smith: The vegetation of Elephant Island, South Shetland Islands . In: British Antarctic Survey Bulletin 33/34, 1973, pp. 185–212 (English)
  5. Saddleback Point, Elephant Island (AQ029) , datasheet on the BirdLife International website, accessed July 23, 2018.
  6. Point W of Walker Point, Elephant Island (AQ030) , data sheet on the BirdLife International website, accessed on July 23, 2018.
  7. Mount Elder, Elephant Island (AQ031) , data sheet on the BirdLife International website, accessed July 23, 2018.
  8. Point W of Cape Lookout, Elephant Island (AQ032) , data sheet on the BirdLife International website, accessed on July 23, 2018.
  9. Stinker Point, Elephant Island (AQ033) , data sheet on the BirdLife International website, accessed on July 23, 2018.
  10. The dream is hell in FAZ from November 14, 2013, page 7
  11. HSM 53: Endurance Memorial Site in the Database of Protected Areas of the Secretariat of the Antarctic Treaty, accessed on December 25, 2019 (English).